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Riverhead may introduce app for beachgoers to purchase permits with one of four plans

Riverhead beachgoers should keep their cell phones handy this summer: modified town beach stickers could be available for digital purchase.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ray Coyne proposed a plan at Tuesday’s Town Board work session that would offer all beachgoers four permit options that can be linked to a free app called Viply.

Riverhead residents and nonresidents are required to purchase individual stickers for vehicle parking and four-wheel-drive vehicle parking on all town beaches. A separate boat-launch sticker is required for usage of boat ramps at Iron Pier, Reeves and Wading River beaches.

The parks and recreation department has received complaints from residents who believe too many stickers are required, Mr. Coyne said.

In an effort to address those complaints and minimize cash transactions at town beaches, the new plan would require only one annual pass to be affixed to each vehicle: bronze, silver, gold or platinum.

Bronze passes includes beach parking alone and would cost $5 for seniors, $20 for residents — a $5 increase from the current rate — and $200 for nonresidents.

A silver pass includes parking and boat-launch and would cost $10 for seniors, $40 for residents, $275 for nonresidents and $300 for commercial vehicles. 

The gold and platinum passes would be exclusive to residents and both contain permits for parking and parking four-wheel-drive vehicles. The platinum pass is free to veterans, and gold passes are free to fire department and emergency volunteers.

All passes will be available for purchase in advance via Viply and redeemed at the beach, Mr. Coyne said.

After beachgoers download the app and create an account, they can purchase any of the passes, valid until 2021. When users reach the beach entrance, they can launch the app and scan a QR code at the entrance to receive a parking sticker or receipt.

If an individual wants to upgrade their pass, they will pay the difference for the upgrade, return their current pass and receive a new pass.

More residents obtained beach permits in 2019 than in 2018 and 2017 — and revenue increased by about 115.25% between 2018-19, according to data collected by the Parks and Recreation Department. Resident beach permit purchases are expected to increase in 2020.

If approved by the Town Board, the app would be phased in within the next few years, Mr. Coyne said.

“We’re not forcing everyone to do it, but we’re trying to get the trend where we eliminate just about all cash,” Mr. Coyne said. “In a year or two, we can tell everybody it’s just cashless.”

There will be no additional cost for the town to use the app, Mr. Coyne said. He believes it could ease police permit enforcement, and received approval on the proposal from Riverhead Police Department Sgt. Sean Egan.

The proposal did not appear as a resolution on the Jan. 22 meeting agenda, so Town Board members have not yet voted on it.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio was not present at the meeting.